Baked aubergine with parmesan

Today’s dish is baked aubergine with parmesan: ‘parmigiana’. When you don’t know what to cook, and you don’t want pasta or a steak, but you do want something nutritious, satisfying and a complete meal in itself – this baked aubergine dish hits the spot. Substantial is the right term for this classic: there are many other things one could say, especially about its contentious origins in either Emilia Romagna, Campania or Sicily, but also about its name. However, Sicily wins out on its origins because it has entered it formally as one of its traditional food products. It’s basically just a baked dish of aubergine with a cheesy, tomato sauce. Interestingly, the aubergine, originally from Asia, did not at first enjoy a good reputation in Italy: it was introduced by Arabs during the Middle Ages, but only much later, during the eighteenth century, did it begin to be eaten on the dining tables of the common people. Follow our step-by-step recipe and you’re guaranteed a perfect outcome!


120 minutes Total time
30 minutes Active time
Serves 3 persons
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Make the tomato sauce first: fry the garlic with the oil, then pour the tomato passata and, when half cooked, add the basil leaves. Cut the aubergine lengthwise into not-too-thin slices without removing the skin. Soak the aubergine slices in milk for 15 minutes (this will remove any bitterness). Dry the slices with a clean, white teal towel, pressing down on each. Fry the aubergines in plenty of olive oil until they are golden brown (be generous with the oil because they absorb a lot). Place them on kitchen paper and pat dry with more paper, to dry them of as much oil as possible. Repeat this drying procedure 4 or 5 times, until the aubergine stops releasing oil. Pour a layer of sauce into a baking dish, then a layer of aubergine, and then another of sauce. Add a few slices of mozzarella and parmesan cheese. Make further layers of aubergine, tomato sauce, mozzarella and parmesan in this order until all ingredients are used. Finish with a layer of sauce and plenty of parmesan. Preheat the oven to 180°C and cook for half an hour.

To prepare the best ‘parmigiana’, you should buy top quality, large aubergines, oval, shiny and light purple; they should not prove neither too hard nor too soft to the touch.
The first recipe for baked aubergine with parmesan seems to have been written in ‘Il cuoco galante’ by Vincenzo Corrado, an author originally from Puglia but who was in service with various Neapolitan families.

Step by step

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